By Gio Tanudtanud
A DAVAO City Chamber of Commerce and Industry executive said they will learn from past lessons to ensure the Davao-Manado link will succeed and thrive.
On Jan. 4, 2024, a private sector-led initiative resumed direct flights from Davao to Manado, North Sulawesi, which would hopefully rekindle the connection between the two neighboring cities.
Belinda Torres, DCCCII chair, joined the exploratory mission delegation, which was also spearheaded by the Mindanao Development Authority.
“We saw the limitations of what happened before which we will be using as input to what we plan to do this time,” Torres said during the Habi at Kape forum on Wednesday, Jan. 10.
Bouraq Airlines first started the Davao-Manado route on April 29, 1992, with chartered flights. The airline eventually serviced the routes with regular flights from 2002 to 2004.
Unfortunately, Bouraq folded after suffering from operational and financial losses. Merpati Airlines took over but could not sustain the route due to the low load factor. In November 2006, Merpati Airlines flew chartered and scheduled flights until May 2007.
Direct flights later resumed on Sept. 27, 2019, but ceased due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
“The experiences that we got from the past, be it good or bad, will be an input for us to improve what we will plan to do this time,” she said.
In 1993, Davao had a sisterhood agreement with Manado. The Philippine archipelago was linked to its ASEAN neighbors by the ASEAN Connectivity Master Plan.
In a statement, Mindanao Development Authority deputy executive director ASec. Romeo Montenegro said the route is primed to accommodate a new player.
“Davao-Manado has always been viable air connectivity. We find this mission an opportune time in realizing this project. Hopefully, this time it will have more interactions, exchanges, and mobility between Manado – Davao, and the larger Mindanao and North Sulawesi.”
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